Minnesota United players might have thought their chances of beating the LA Galaxy on Saturday were going to be made a bit better when they saw the Galaxy lineup and noticed standout goalkeeper Jonathan Bond wasn’t starting.
What the Loons probably weren’t counting on was Bond’s replacement, Jonathan Klinsmann, stepping up and delivering the best performance of his young career to date.
The 24-year-old made seven saves, including several of the highlight-reel variety to help the Galaxy earn a 1-0 victory at Allianz Field on Saturday.
The Loons kept Klinsmann busy from start to finish, with the former U.S. Under-20 national team goalkeeper making a big save in the early going, and again with a pair of vital saves in second-half stoppage time.
“It means everything,” Klinsmann said of the win and the shutout. “I’ve been waiting 18 games for a game. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Bondy has been doing great. We’ve been pushing each other every training session. He’s made me a better goalkeeper and I’ve made him, hopefully, a better goalkeeper.”
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 15, 2021
Bond has been one of the best goalkeepers in MLS through the first half of the season, but Galaxy coach Gregg Vanney gave Klinsmann the start and saw his decision rewarded.
” [Jonathan Bond] has played the 18 games prior and it was an opportunity to give this kid, who is working hard every day, an opportunity to go out and perform and he did,” Vanney said. “We need to make sure everyone is ready down the stretch. You never know who is going to get called upon in a moment when you need to win and you get to the playoffs and all that kind of stuff.
“He proved today that he’s ready for whatever role that we give him. He was outstanding,” Vanney said. “He made some incredibly athletic saves throughout the course of the game. I thought he did a good job. We don’t come away with those points without the performance that he had.”
Klinsmann joined the Galaxy in August after spending three seasons at Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, where he never played for the first team. The former University of California standout, and son of former U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, figured to challenge for playing time in 2021, but that was before Bond emerged as a top-level starter.
Despite the lack of playing time, Klinsmann has no regrets about the decision to return from Europe,
“Since I got back [from Europe] it’s been pretty nice. Just being able to not focus on anything off the field,” Klinsmann said. You kind of have all of those things… You’re at home. You have your family and your friends, which I didn’t have for three years in Europe, which was always tough for me.
“I felt like this was the best situation for me to advance as an athlete,” Klinsmann said. “Coming back, I’ve definitely improved. I’ve had two great goalkeeper coaches since I’ve been here and learned so much from both of them. Just keep training and keep going.”
Klinsmann will return to his backup role, but will do so having shown what he can do when called upon, helping the Galaxy earn a valuable road win.
“For me, it was just waiting for this chance and just taking it,” Klinsmann said. “I’m happy to help the team win. It’s all you can really ask for is to get those three points away from home and be able to come home at the start of this tough week now. It was a good game, a fun game and it was nice to be out there.”